In past years the Madison School District might have expelled more than a dozen students in the first quarter.
This year the number of expulsions in the first quarter — zero.
The sharp reduction is the result of the district’s new Phoenix program, an alternative to expulsion that district officials hope will allow students to focus on academics and improved behavior, rather than spend as long as a year-and-a-half falling behind their peers while disconnected from school services.
As of last week, 17 students who have committed expellable offenses were enrolled in the program. Rather than face an expulsion hearing, each has been given a second chance to continue learning in a classroom away from their peers. The district has expelled between 33 and 64 students a year in the last decade.
Watch a Madison School Board discussion of the Phoenix program, here (begins about 10 minutes into the video).